Letter to Stephen Post, 17 September 1838

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Sept 17th 1838
I proceed to answer your communication of the 1st August which I should have answered before had it not been for the press of buisness on my mind etc. The Journal is isued from this place it commenced I think in May. As to your information relative to in foreign lands it is correct Elders & with several others in company have visited Great Britton, Elders & have returned they are here you will probaly se[e] their narative, which I think they are about to publish in pamphlet form. They have been very successfull have between one & two thousands, some 40 Elders besides other officers necessary. Other have been appointed but not by a committee appointed as you supposed, for the Lord has said that no stake shall be concidered a stake of unless appointed, dedicated, and set apart, by the , One of these is situated about 30 miles north of this place on , which is nearly as large as this place at this time One This is called , or the place where Adam dwelt. One at the mouth of called it was a gentile city plott and named by them that is about 40 miles miles East of this place &c. &c. &c. The is the next question, The celler is dug the corner stones were laid July 4th 1838. Next comes the work of the . As to this, there are thousands gathering this season [p. [1]] The road is full companies of frequently 10, 20 & 30 <​wagons​> arrives, some almost daily One company which is the camp is close here with one hundred wagons report says is comming less than one hundred miles of this place, with 64 wagons and the road is litterly lined with wagons between here and . The work of the gathering is great. all the saints should gather as soon as possible, urge all the saints to gather immediately if they possibly can. The chance is great for purchasing lands here land is very cheap the old settlers will sell for half price yes, for quarter price they are determined to get away. Congress land is plenty and good land can be had for property other than money, such as horses wagons goods of all kinds &c, &c, and State Banks will buy Congress lands, Eastern money can be exchanged on the road, with ease. You next ask what is the cause of the papers stoping it was because the was burnt down, by the decenters [dissenters] from the faith in , As to Mechanical branches, all kinds are needed, & would do well, As to the Stick of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim, I will merely say suppose yourself to be an Ephraimite, and suppose all this church to be, of the blood of Ephraim and the book of Mormon to be a record of Manasseh which would of course [be a re]cord of Joseph, Then suppose you being an Ephraimite, Should take the record of Joseph in your hand, would not then the stick of Joseph of Joseph be in the hand of Ephraim. solve this mistery and se[e].
The persecutors of the saints are not asleep in but God is near as to communicate his will unto us, I can write no more at present, I would say say may [p. [2]] the Lord bless you and all the faithful and enable you to come up to with songs of everlasting joy upon your head is the prayer of your unworthy servant and brother in the Lord Even so Amen,
Joseph Smith Jr.
Scribe [p. [3]]
Bloomfield Crawford Co.
P. a.
OCT. 3, [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    In his letter, Post apparently asked about the status of the Elders’ Journal. He probably had not yet received the first issue of the Elders’ Journal published at Far West, Missouri, dated July 1838, but he may have had access to the 30 April 1838 prospectus announcing the resumption of the paper. He was likely interested in the paper as a way to remain connected with other believers, and he may also have been interested in writing for the newspaper. When sending his 1 August letter to JS, Post apparently enclosed a theological treatise on the order of God that he presumably wrote for publication in the paper. (See Prospectus for Elders’ Journal, 30 Apr. 1838; and Stephen Post, “Reflections on the Order of God and Effects Flowing from It,” Elders’ Journal, Aug. 1838, 49–50.)  

  2. 2

    Kimball arrived in Far West on 22 July 1838, and Hyde arrived sometime between then and 29 July. (Reynolds Cahoon, Far West, MO, to Newel K. Whitney, Kirtland, OH, 23 July 1838, CHL; JS, Journal, 29 July 1838; see also Letter from Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, between 22 and 28 May 1838.)  

    Cahoon, Reynolds, and Edward Partridge. Letter, Far West, MO, to Newel K. Whitney, Kirtland Mills, OH, 23 and 24 July 1838. CHL.

  3. 3

    JS was likely referring to the Journal of Heber C. Kimball, published in 1840. Publication of this pamphlet was likely delayed because of the 1838 conflict with Missourians and the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from Missouri in winter 1838–1839. (See Robert B. Thompson, ed., Journal of Heber C. Kimball, an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [Nauvoo, IL: Robinson and Smith, 1840].)  

    Thompson, Robert B. Journal of Heber C. Kimball an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nauvoo, IL: Robinson and Smith, 1840.

  4. 4

    Under the direction of Hyde and Kimball, over fifteen hundred individuals were baptized in England. Although the exact number of elders is unknown, Joseph Fielding stated that when the two apostles departed, at least seventy-seven men had been ordained to priesthood offices. (Allen et al., Men with a Mission, 52–53; Fielding, Journal, 1837–1838, 59.)  

    Allen, James B., Ronald K. Esplin, and David J. Whittaker. Men with a Mission, 1837–1841: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992.

    Fielding, Joseph. Journals, 1837–1859. CHL. MS 1567.

  5. 5

    On 17 September 1837, a conference of elders at Kirtland resolved “it was necessary that there be more Stakes of Zion appointed in order that the poor might have a place to gather to.” The elders therefore requested that JS and Sidney Rigdon “go & appoint other Stakes or places of gathering.” The next day, the bishopric at Kirtland wrote a memorial likewise calling upon JS and Rigdon to organize additional stakes for the Saints. In response, JS and Rigdon appointed a committee in November to locate sites for settlement in Missouri. This decision was published in the November 1837 issue of the Elders’ Journal, which Post likely read. A revelation on 12 January 1838 clarified that stakes must be appointed and dedicated by the First Presidency. (Minutes, 17 Sept. 1837–B; Newel K. Whitney et al., To the Saints Scattered Abroad, the Bishop and His Counselors of Kirtland Send Greeting [Kirtland, OH: ca. Sept. 1837], copy at CHL; Newel K. Whitney et al., Kirtland, OH, to “the Saints scattered abroad,” 18 Sept. 1837, in LDS Messenger and Advocate, Sept. 1837, 3:561–564; Travel Account and Questions, Nov. 1837; Revelation, 12 Jan. 1838–B.)  

    To the Saints Scattered Abroad, the Bishop and His Counselors of Kirtland Send Greeting. [Kirtland, OH: 18 Sept. 1837]. CHL.

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

  6. 6

    TEXT: “[Page torn]and”.  

  7. 7

    JS taught that Adam-ondi-Ahman was where Adam and Eve lived after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. JS organized a stake at Adam-ondi-Ahman on 28 June 1838. (See Minutes, 28 June 1838.)  

  8. 8

    Although JS identified De Witt as a stake in this letter, it is unknown whether a stake was ever formally organized there. A month after this letter was written, Latter-day Saint Albert P. Rockwood wrote that “De Witt was not an appointed stake of Zion.” (See Rockwood, Journal, 14 Oct. 1838; see also Reed Peck, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 20–21, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.)  

    Rockwood, Albert Perry. Journal Entries, Oct. 1838–Jan. 1839. Photocopy. CHL. MS 2606.

    Peck, Reed. Letter, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

  9. 9

    Post may have asked about the construction of a House of the Lord in Missouri because of his noteworthy experience during the 1836 dedication of the House of the Lord in Kirtland. In his journal, Post described his experience as a “pentecost” like that described in Acts, chapter 2, of the New Testament. Post wrote, “Angels of God came into the room, cloven tongues rested upon some of the servants of the Lord like unto fire, & they spake with tongues & prophesied.” (Post, Journal, 27–31 Mar. 1836.)  

    Post, Stephen. Journals, 1835–1879. Stephen Post, Papers, 1835–1921. CHL. MS 1304, box 6.

  10. 10

    The Saints commenced work on the cellar in summer 1837. They continued until November, when JS directed church members to cease constructing the House of the Lord. A revelation on 26 April 1838 instructed the Saints to resume construction, and on 4 July 1838 JS presided over the dedication of the cornerstones. (Letter from William W. Phelps, 7 July 1837; Minutes, 6 Nov. 1837; Revelation, 26 Apr. 1838 [D&C 115:8]; “Celebration of the 4th of July,” Elders’ Journal, Aug. 1838, 60.)  

  11. 11

    During spring and summer 1838, several small companies of Latter-day Saints journeyed from Ohio to join the main body of Saints in Missouri. (See Rockwood, Journal, 14 Oct. 1838.)  

    Rockwood, Albert Perry. Journal Entries, Oct. 1838–Jan. 1839. Photocopy. CHL. MS 2606.

  12. 12

    TEXT: Possibly “comp[any]”.  

  13. 13

    At the time JS dictated this letter, Page was leading a company of Saints from Upper Canada to Missouri. While on the road, Page’s company joined with a larger company of Saints traveling to Missouri from Kirtland. This larger company, known as the “Kirtland Camp,” contained over five hundred Saints. At some point, Page likely wrote to JS about the progress of this large company and other groups Page met on the way. On 17 September, the day JS replied to Post, the Kirtland Camp passed through Jacksonville, Illinois—approximately two hundred miles from Far West. The company did not arrive at its final destination of Adam-ondi-Ahman until 4 October 1838. (Page, Journal Synopsis, [1]–[2]; Kirtland Camp, Journal, 13 Mar.–2 Oct. 1838; Tyler, Journal, 4 Oct. 1838, 74–75.)  

    Page, John E. Journal Synopsis, ca. 1845. CHL. MS 641.

    Kirtland Camp. Journal, Mar.–Oct. 1838. CHL. MS 4952.

    Tyler, Samuel D. Journal, July–Oct. 1838. CHL. MS 1761.

  14. 14

    On 26 April 1838, JS dictated a revelation directing that “the City Far West should be built up spedily, by the gathering of my Saints,” and that JS should appoint further locations for gathering. (See Revelation, 26 Apr. 1838 [D&C 115:17–18].)  

  15. 15

    JS was likely referring to land patents granted by the federal government’s General Land Office. In 1836 JS and many other Latter-day Saints began acquiring patent titles for land in Caldwell County. JS’s own application was approved just ten days prior to the date of this letter, though the news had not yet reached JS. (See Application for Land Patent, 22 June 1836; and Land Patent, 7 Sept. 1838.)  

  16. 16

    JS was discussing a type of land speculation that increased in the western United States in the mid-1830s. In 1839, land speculator and recent Latter-day Saint convert Isaac Galland explained to a friend that the Illinois courts in particular expressed a preference for patent titles over other legal claims. “Patents are therefore in demand,” Galland reported, “and you may venture to purchase all that you can get at a fair price.” (Isaac Galland, Chillicothe, OH, to Samuel Swasey, North Haverhill, NH, 22 July 1839, CCLA; see also Rohrbough, Land Office Business, 221–249.)  

    Galland, Isaac. Letter, Chillicothe, OH, to Samuel Swasey, North Haverhill, NH, 22 July 1839. CCLA.

    Rohrbough, Malcolm J. The Land Office Business: The Settlement and Administration of American Public Lands, 1789–1837. New York: Ocford University Press, 1968.

  17. 17

    By the late 1830s, many banks in the eastern United States had expanded their spheres of influence westward, and most western banks depended on eastern capital for financial stability. (Bodenhorn, History of Banking in Antebellum America, 185–189, 193–195; Knodell, “Interregional Financial Integration,” 291.)  

    Bodenhorn, Howard. A History of Banking in Antebellum America: Financial Markets and Economic Development in an Era of Nation-Building. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    Knodell, Jane. “Interregional Financial Integration and the Banknote Market: The Old Northwest, 1815–1845.” Journal of Economic History 48, no. 2 (June 1988): 287–298.

  18. 18

    See Introduction to Part 7: 17 Sept. 1837–21 Jan. 1838.  

  19. 19

    In later census records, Post was identified as a blacksmith, suggesting that he may have asked JS about the prospect of blacksmithing in Missouri. (1850 U.S. Census, Rome Township, Crawford Co., PA, 270[A].)  

    Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.

  20. 20

    See Ezekiel 37:19. Post recorded using this passage in a sermon nearly four months prior to his letter to JS. (Post, Journal, 15 Apr. 1838.)  

    Post, Stephen. Journals, 1835–1879. Stephen Post, Papers, 1835–1921. CHL. MS 1304, box 6.

  21. 21

    Ephraim was one of two sons of Joseph, son of Jacob, in the Old Testament. Several JS revelations in 1831 associated descent from Ephraim with membership in the church. (See, for example, Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:36]; Revelation, 29 Oct. 1831 [D&C 66]; Revelation, 3 Nov. 1831 [D&C 133:30–34]; and Mauss, “In Search of Ephraim,” 145–147.)  

    Mauss, Armand. “In Search of Ephraim: Traditional Mormon Conceptions of Lineage and Race.” Journal of Mormon History 25, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 131–173.

  22. 22

    The Book of Mormon states that the Nephites and the Lamanites were descendants of Manasseh, a son of Joseph in the Old Testament. (See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 248 [Alma 10:3].)  

  23. 23

    TEXT: “[Page torn]cord”.  

  24. 24

    The Book of Mormon and JS’s revelations taught that the prophecy in Ezekiel chapter 37 of the Old Testament, which mentions the “stick of Joseph,” was a reference to the writings of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. (See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 67 [2 Nephi 3:11–12]; and Revelation, ca. Aug. 1835 [D&C 27:5].)  

  25. 25

    See Isaiah 35:10; Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45:71]; Revelation, 29 Oct. 1831 [D&C 66:11]; and Minutes and Prayer of Dedication, 27 Mar. 1836 [D&C 109:39].  

  26. new scribe logo

    Postage in unidentified handwriting.  

  27. new scribe logo

    Postmark stamped in red ink.